26.04.2021 - Culture Sector

UNESCO remembers Thomas Desch, international law expert

UNESCO expresses its deep regret at the recent passing of Thomas Desch, a well-known expert in international humanitarian law and one of the driving forces behind the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention. His engagement with UNESCO was longstanding, notably in the context of the protection of cultural property in times of armed conflict, as a delegate of the Austrian Delegation to the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and as the Chairperson of the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Mr Desch served as the Head of the Sub-Division on International Law in the Federal Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Austria and was member of the Austrian Delegation to the international conferences to prepare and negotiate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

He made an outstanding contribution to the field of international law, including to the subject of the protection of cultural property in times of armed conflict.  He was Chairman of the Working Group on Chapter 2 established by the Conference on the 1999 Second Protocol and served as expert adviser to the Austrian member in the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. He participated in many UNESCO meetings concerning the 1954 Convention and its Protocols, and was well known and admired by UNESCO’s staff.

Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, expressed his condolences, noting that “Thomas Desch was not only a legal powerhouse, especially in relation to the Hague Convention, he was a great friend to UNESCO. His skill, commitment and leadership will be greatly missed.”




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